Marketplace selling comes with its highs and lows. Learning how to manage the ups and downs of eCommerce are what separate those who are successful and those who are unsuccessful. Bob Willey, an Amazon industry leader, shares his marketplace selling expertise with us.
Appeagle: You began selling online with eBay in 1998 and Amazon in 2005, then becoming FBA in 2008. How did you get into selling and eCommerce?
Bob Willey: I used to do dealer co-op booths for antiques and collectibles, then had a brick and mortar country Auction House. After having a computer business for over 28 years, selling and E-Commerce was just a natural fit for me. I love “stuff”.
Appeagle: Have you ever used a repricer? If so, what has your experience been with repricing tools?
Bob Willey: I have repriced manually many times, and have used a repricing software. I have had good experiences once getting past the setup — that is the key with any repricer. Otherwise you risk participating in the race to the bottom which can potentially destroy your business.
Appeagle: As a multi-channel repricing tool, we know that there are all kinds of sellers out there and no two are the same. How would you describe your primary audience of sellers?
Bob Willey: Repricers address all sorts of different people. Some like to reprice frequently. Me, I like to reprice about every 2 months, unless it is Q4 and then I will do toys and games weekly.
Appeagle: In addition to being a skilled seller, you’re also an accomplished selling coach. Explain how your passion for selling on Amazon and eBay helped your career blossom into a selling coach for Jim Cockrum Coaching. What was it about your experience in beginning to sell online that prompted you to start a career as a selling coach?
Bob Willey: I truly love to help people, and have always been active on the internet in trying to pay it forward. Coaching was a natural extension for me, and I get great pleasure from being able to help someone build, grow, and increase their business. When I made the decision to concentrate on my core businesses — Amazon and Coaching — I contacted Jim Cockrum. We had worked together for a long time, and the fit was almost instant. It made sense to both of us; we had similar goals. Jim Cockrum has always been a mentor of mine, so working together has been fantastic. Hard to find something you love to do and people you enjoy working around.
Appeagle: You administer one of the largest seller forums on Yahoo. What are some of the biggest concerns you hear from other sellers that you mentor? How do their concerns help you modify your strategies as a selling coach and seller?
Bob Willey: I hear all sorts of concerns, from not being able to find product, to concerns about dealing with Amazon, to product and category restrictions, and just the general learning curve. I have been able to hone in on specific needs and do customized one-on-one coaching, so nothing cookie-cutter, totally geared to the needs of the seller I am working with. I spoke at SCOE-Seattle, an Amazon conference, in early August on "Sourcing for Amazon & FBA."
Appeagle: Some of the most recent controversial topics relating to Amazon have been the HBA category suspensions and counterfeit Disney’s Frozen merchandise. What kinds of outcomes have you seen from both of these occurrences?
Bob Willey: Some people were running their business a little footloose and fancy free. Some got caught pretty hard unfortunately, when Amazon got serious about reviewing all this. Most have recovered nicely, and I was able to help people get re-instated, and many to get approval for gated categories. The biggest problem I saw with Frozen was that some people made that their whole business model, instead of the fad that it really is. It should have been a percentage of their overall business, and needed to be diversified. Diversify! Various products, various categories, and various strategies. Fast nickel and slow dime.
Appeagle: You’re an advocate for FBA. What would you say to the full or partial MFN seller who is hesitant to switch to FBA?
Bob Willey: Once they come to FBA, most never go back. The advantages of FBA so far outweigh any issues; there is no contest. And the increased sales from exposure is incredible. Yes, I believe in the FBA model.
Appeagle: What would your best advice be to those looking to begin selling online, and those who are already actively selling?
Bob Willey: Diversify, work with a mentor, be agile and ready to change. Stay positive and have fun!
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